A few weeks ago Obama began his bid for re-election in 2012. Don’t worry; this won’t turn into a political blog… But when I heard this, it got me thinking. I was reminded of the last elections in 2010. I remember telling my wife during campaign/election season that it was tough to figure out how I wanted to vote in most cases because I didn’t hear much from any candidate on why they should get my vote. Instead I heard a lot about why ‘the other guy’ should not get my vote.
The reasons why I should not vote for ‘the other guy’ ranged from some that were very reasonable to some that could make you think ‘how-could-this-person-even-be-running-for-office?’ In fact, if you go to youTube and search negative campaign ads you can see for yourself. Chances are you’ll see some ads that seem quite absurd. Some are so ridiculous they’ll make you laugh. It’s sad really. The ads are full of partial truths and bits and pieces of someone’s record taken out of context. Most people, I hope, are smart enough to see through this but the ads somehow still work. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be run so often by so many candidates. What does it say about us as the electing population if this is what we respond to?
That question then led me to think what would happen if the same approach was taken in other aspects of our lives. What if companies all treated each other as ruthlessly as these politicians running for office? Can you imagine if some of the auto companies like Ford and Honda played ads featuring a dramatization of speeding, run-a-way Toyotas crashing as accelerator pedals got stuck as it had happened leading up to the 2009 Toyota brake defect/recall? The auto industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world, and even though the other companies tried to capitalize on Toyota’s mistakes and misfortune, an approach like this would not be taken. Think about why that is…
Let’s try another scenario. Let’s say you have an upcoming job interview for a position you really want. And in this case, you even know who else is being considered for the job. What do you think would happen if, when you sit for the interview, you spend 90% of the time telling the panel of interviewers why the other candidates should not be hired? Chances are you wouldn’t get the job. I think the interviewers would even be shocked and appalled by your behavior and they wouldn’t have much respect for you afterward. If you think about it, the campaign season is basically a long, drawn-out job interview. We, the voters, are the panel. Yet, we accept this behavior from people who are running for office, who are up for a job that can impact so many lives. Again, what does this say about us if this is what we respond to?
Whether we’re making decisions about what products to buy or who we should hire for a new position at work, we have a higher standard. We don’t let companies or people get away with insulting our intelligence or treating us (consumers, interviewers, etc) or each other in a disrespectful manner. Why in campaign season does that change? What would it be like if we maintained this higher standard during our elections? Would society be better off?